If You Can?
Mark 9:22b But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
Mark 9:23 ¶ “ ‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”
Mark 9:24 ¶ Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Here we find the father of a child that has been afflicted with terrible convulsions. Can't you just imagine the pain of this parent, watching his child suffering day after day! Finally word reaches this father that there is a man who is able to heal all kinds of illnesses and cast out spirits. He thinks there is a possibility that this could be the solution for his son. He presents his son to Jesus in hopes that something can be done. Of course there is a hesitation because by this time he has probably tried every type of cure known to mankind. Therefore he says, "If you can do anything" -- to Jesus. Jesus' response is interesting -- possibly with a bit of indignation he says, "If you can?" In other words, don't you know that I can. This is God we're talking about here and yes, he has power over everything!!! Jesus tells him, "Everything is possible for him who believes." The father realizes that he is the stumbling block to his sons healing and he cries out to Jesus asking him to help him "overcome my unbelief!"
What becomes so vivid in this story is the fact that all power in heaven and earth is available to Jesus. Yes he can heal this boy! That seems so obvious to us. Yet, I wonder whether we act like we are serving a different God these days. Just as he was able to act that day, he is able to act today. Yes -- he can and that is foundational to our understanding of Jesus Christ. He is not some distant God -- he is an ever-present God through the Holy Spirit and remains present and active in our lives today. But maybe we are a bit like the father. We have heard about Jesus -- the Holy Spirit -- and yet we come to him and say "If you can" would you do this! It's not a point of "If he can" -- because yes he can -- but he says that it is about our belief.
This belief is not just about a moment of healing -- this is about belief in Jesus as the Son of God -- as the Messiah! Are we not just looking for a wonderworker? It's about so much more. This is a call to a personal relationship with the God who can heal. This is where the place of belief steps in and it is in this relationship that we discover that the question, "If you can" sounds so completely ridiculous. Yes, of course he can.
Again we may need to step into the place of the father and realize that we need to Jesus to help us with our unbelief. We must recognize that there may be stumbling blocks to our complete and total faith in him. Oh -- may Jesus help us overcome our unbelief! If that happens does it mean that Jesus will give us everything that we want? No -- but it does mean that we will be able to comprehend him on a level which is much greater than anything that we have ever experienced. We will be able to see and believe in him -- trusting in him through all the difficult moments of life. At the same time it may mean that God wants to do some acts of miraculous healing in the here and now. Maybe we need to ask the Lord to examine our hearts and determine whether our response has been "If you can." May he take our "If you can" and make it "I know you can" through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Lord, please help my unbelief. Amen.